Merry Christmas!

This Christmas season has been fun and special as I have had several opportunities to bless others by caroling for elderly people in the community. Each time, despite the cold and rainy weather, it has been so exciting to see the faces of people light up as we raised a “joyful noise” in singing familiar Christmas songs at their doorstep. Two women in particular stand out. One, a widow living on her own, came out into the cold and joined us, singing all of the words by memory. Her face was just brilliant as the beautiful notes escaped her lips. The other was an elderly woman in a nursing home who let us sing one song before stopping us to pray. “We don’t need more songs,” she said. “We need to pray.” She led us in prayer for our country, for the salvation of others, and for our families. So cool! I can’t but hope that when I’m in my nineties, that I have the godly influence of these two ladies!

On a more humorous note, the last day of school was yesterday and the staff at the high school where I teach did a flash mob for the students during the half time of our staff vs. student Holiday Hoops basketball game. It was a complete surprise, and, not to boast, but I thought we did a pretty awesome job! (To see a video, check out http://youtu.be/wSvVa6n9JKA). After working as a long-term substitute in English 10 for almost two full semesters, I will be transitioning to twelfth grade Literature and Composition classes for the next eight weeks after Christmas Break. Working at Carroll has been an enormous blessing and it is a miracle that I have had such consistent employment as a substitute! Though I was initially discouraged by having to stay in Fort Wayne for another year, I have made some great relationships, gained valuable experience, and had a lot of fun teaching so far this year.

That doesn’t mean that I’m not excited about the prospect of moving overseas for the next school year. However, some changes to my original plans are being considered. Due to the high cost of living in Papua New Guinea and my relative lack of support, I have started exploring other schools as possible options for next year. The Philippines, Thailand, Tanzania, and Senegal are all countries where international schools need English teachers for the 2013-2014 school year and the required support would be less than it is in Papua New Guinea. As I re-evaluate my desire to support the work of the Gospel by teaching, I find that it is not the location of the school that is important, but the ability to be of service to the other missionaries. Nothing is certain yet, but as my partners in this journey, I would appreciate your prayer for wisdom, discernment, and direction as I evaluate each of these options (and any other opportunities that may present themselves).

Just today, I met with a family friend who has spent the majority of her life involved in overseas missions, in schools abroad, and now sending teachers to various schools around the world. She was telling me the story of a translation work in the Philippines where it had taken the missionary 35 years to translate the New Testament into a particular language. When questioned why it took that long, he responded that it would have taken only around twenty years, except for that he had been pulled out of the work of translation in order to help in other capacities for nearly twelve years. Just think, if support missionaries had been there to allow him to remain in the tribe, the New Testament could have been finished nearly fifteen years earlier! As we were speaking, she shared with me how common of a situation that really is–and how vital those support roles are to the work of the Gospel. Then, as we parted ways, she encouraged me by saying that she hoped God would give me a special surprise this Christmas season. When I arrived home this evening, less than six hours later, I had a letter waiting for me, containing a $200 gift from someone I have never met! God works in such crazy amazing ways to bless us!

I want you to know that you have been a blessing to me this year, and I pray that God would bless you abundantly as well! Have a wonderful Christmas!

-Abby

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